Green Bay Packers: Evaluating the RCB Position for the Pack Heading in 2012
In terms of who will be the RCB for the Green Bay Packers in 2012, it's looking like a four-horse race for the job.
And that's just in the base 3-4 defense; you also have the nickel and dime looks that the Packers employ.
Tramon Williams is the starter once again at LCB. Right now on the depth chart, Jarrett Bush is the starter at RCB, but players such as Davon House, Sam Shields and rookie Casey Hayward all have had their moments in camp thus far.
I'll talk about each player individually, but this competition at RCB is great for quality depth reasons. In fact, I think all four of the players I've mentioned will make the Green Bay squad in 2012. I see the Packers keeping five cornerbacks, along with four safeties, on their roster this year.
I expect the four safeties to be Charles Woodson, Morgan Burnett, M.D. Jennings and Jerron McMillian. I also would imagine that the Packers will try and hide at least a couple of other DBs on their practice squad, too.
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Jarrett Bush is the starter at RCB—for now.
Bush has gotten better in his pass coverage skills over the years, but that part of his game is still not where it needs to be in terms of being a starting-caliber CB.
So why is Bush the starter now? The main reasons are his tackling ability and also his never-say-die mental attitude. Bush always plays with his motor running hot.
That being said, I see one of his competitors taking over at RCB when all is said and done. Bush still will get some time in the nickel and dime schemes on occasion, but his main job will be doing what his does best.
And that is being a force on special teams.
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Sam Shields did not have a good start to training camp. His coverage skills were lacking, and he once again showed that tackling is not his strong suit.
But Shields has turned that around over the past week or so, although he missed another key tackle in the Family Night scrimmage.
If one just looked at Shields' stats from 2010 and 2011, one would not see a big difference. In 2010, Shields started six games, had 27 total tackles and two picks. In 2011, he started seven games, had 36 total tackles, four picks and forced a fumble.
Shields had a better 2011 campaign, right? Wrong. Shields definitely regressed as a tackler in 2011, and he also was burned way too often in pass coverage.
Shields knows this is a big training camp for him, and he has started to look more like the Shields of 2010, which is a good thing.
Davon House was one of the players head coach Mike McCarthy recently mentioned on Packers.com when he talked about how young players get better.
"I'm always excited about our younger players," said McCarthy. "I love seeing our younger players being educated and seeing guys that come on at the end of the season, whether they're from the practice squad or they just didn't play a whole lot. Davon House comes to mind."
House was drafted by the Packers in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He only played two games for the Packers in 2011, though, due to hamstring issues that put his development on hold during training camp and most of the season.
However, House has looked pretty good so far in training camp, as he has been much more focused and determined. House has great size for a CB, at 6'1" and 195 pounds.
He also has a pretty good college resume, too. House received first-team All-WAC honors as a junior and senior at New Mexico State. He also finished his career as the top-ranked player in school history in interception-return yardage with 319 and tied for sixth with 11 picks, returning three of those interceptions for TDs.
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Training camp is just more than a week old, but Casey Hayward has stood out with his play as a defensive back for the Green Bay Packers.
Ted Thompson knew what he was getting when he drafted Hayward in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Hayward was a ball-hawk who had a great senior year, picking off seven passes—the former Vanderbilt Commodore had 15 career interceptions, as a matter of fact.
The Packers currently are starting Jarrett Bush and Tramon Williams at CB in their base defense, as Charles Woodson has moved over to S alongside Morgan Burnett. When the Packers line up in their nickel look, Woodson slides down to the slot, and the Packers bring in S M.D. Jennings.
When the Packers utilized their 4-1 dime defense early in camp, it was Williams and either Sam Shields or Davon House outside, with Woodson and Bush in the slot, and Burnett and Jennings at safety.
But Hayward has opened some eyes when he's had his opportunity.
During an early training camp practice, QB Graham Harrell threw outside during an end-of-game situation, and Hayward picked him off.
"I was in the slot in nickel," Hayward told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding that pick. "We were in some man concept. They either run vertical, the in or the out. I guessed the out because they were running 2-minute and was able to get a pick."
Hayward then picked off Harrell again the next day and stood out in the one-on-one coverage drill.
That led to the coaching staff putting Hayward in the dime scheme later that day, as he moved into one of the slot positions, and Bush moved outside with Williams.
Hayward always seems to be around the ball, a la Woodson. That type of performance happened again Aug. 5, as Hayward almost had another pick.